Speed Reads


Manafort's lawyer essentially asks Trump for a pardon right before he's hit with pardon-proof charges

After his Wednesday sentencing, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was looking at possibly spending less than six years in prison or having his crimes pardoned by President Trump. Now, he's facing decades behind bars — and President Trump can't do anything about it.

Manafort was sentenced to an additional 43 months in prison. This adds on to the 47 months he previously received, but considering he has already served nine months, and assuming he gets out early due to good behavior, that would add up to about 68 months behind bars, meaning he'd be released in November 2024, CNN analyst and former prosecutor Elie Honig noted.

Of course, there's still a chance Manafort won't need to serve this sentence and Trump could pardon him, and Manafort's lawyer essentially pleaded for the president to do so. After the sentencing, attorney Kevin Downing falsely stated that after Judge Amy Berman Jackson's decision, "two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with any Russians." In fact, Berman Jackson said that this case had nothing to do with collusion one way or the other, and she said the "'no collusion' mantra is simply a non sequitur." But Downing's statement, which fits Trump's favored narrative, was widely seen as part of an ongoing effort to obtain a pardon, with The Washington Post's Aaron Blake writing that Manafort's lawyers have "completely played into Trump's messaging."

A pardon might not be of much help anymore, though, as minutes later, Manafort was indicted on 16 counts in New York related to mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying business records. Because they're state charges, Trump cannot pardon Manafort for them. If convicted, Manafort could face up to 25 years in prison, The New York Times reports, meaning he is looking at potentially spending the rest of his life behind bars regardless of a pardon.